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CYPRESS : Graffiti Cleanup Program Is Extended

A one-year experiment in hiring a Boys and Girls Club chapter to remove graffiti has been so successful that the venture is being extended, city officials said.

The City Council gave unanimous approval to a new annual contract to the Boys and Girls Club of San Gabriel Valley. The club, based in El Monte, last year won an experimental contract from Cypress to remove graffiti on walls and buildings in the city.

Public Works Director Mark Christoffels last year pushed the program. When he formerly worked for the city of Claremont, he said, he had found that the youth club could do the job of graffiti removal at a lower cost than could full-time city workers.

“The results have been excellent,” City Manager Darrell Essex said. Graffiti removal during the past year, he said, has been fast and efficient.

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Moreover, the city is paying less. In a report to the City Council, Christoffels said that, “while graffiti [in Cypress] has almost doubled . . . our costs for removal were less than half the previous year.”

Christoffels said the city spent about $19,000 last year for graffiti removal. Had city employees done the job, he said, the cost would have exceeded $40,000.

The youth club’s labor force for graffiti removal is composed mostly of juveniles who are under court order to do community service. Clay Hollopeter, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of San Gabriel Valley, said an adult leader accompanies each work crew.

The club has been doing graffiti removal work since 1976, Hollopeter said. In addition to Cypress and Claremont, its other clients include Los Angeles County government, West Covina and San Dimas. The club earns about $100,000 a year from its graffiti-removal contracts, he said.

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